1. Motherhood Part I: Work

    As a mother of 2, I am often asked, ‘Whether or not I work?’ This seems like a simple question to answer, right? Every time, without fail, I take a deep breath, exhale, and instead of talking, I do not know what to say. How can I answer such a simple question when my life feels so much more complicated?

    Yes, I do work outside of my home. I run my own business.

    Yes, I do work inside of my home. I am the chief of cooking, groceries, lunch packing, laundry, bed making, etc.

    And, Yes, I work to parent my kids. It is work getting them out of bed in the morning. It is work getting them out of their pajamas. It is work brushing their teeth. It is work getting them into their car seats. It is work dropping them off at daycare without them clinging to me and telling me they are sick and need to come home. And, that is only the work I do as a parent before 8 am! It is work that I love and that I chose to do, but it is tough and challenging. Sometimes it does feel like work to come up with new positive spins every day for my 3 year old so that each task does not turn into a meltdown that seems to be waiting right around every corner.

    Please do not misunderstand me, being a parent is the most important thing I have done and will ever do. My husband and I worked hard to have our kids, undergoing fertility treatments and numerous highs and lows along the way. It is a blessing to be a mother.

    Work is a noun or a verb, neither positive nor negative. Work is defined as an “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”

    So, going back to the original question of ‘do you work?’ My simplest answer is: Yes, I do, inside and outside of my home. The follow-up to that, though, is that the work I do at home with my kids involves so much more mental and physical effort than the work I do outside of my home. Parenting is the epitome of emotional engaging and exhaustion. My kids depend on me (and my husband) for love, guidance, boundaries and discipline. How can these things not require the utmost mental and physical effort?

    Often, mothers who work outside of the home say that they choose to go to their jobs to get ‘adult time.’ Time where they can go to the bathroom by themselves, time where they can sit and eat lunch – even if it is at their desk, and time where they can talk to people who, hopefully, don’t break down in tears when they don’t get their way. In fact, survey results from FlexJobs report that 2 out of 3 women “want to work” [outside the home] even though most “need to work.”

    A good friend and colleague of mine saw Gloria Steinem speak in 2012, and during her speech, Gloria told the audience that stay at home moms produce so much unpaid labor in the home that they literally and figuratively hold up the US economy. Gloria explained that she has argued for years for some kind of recognition, ideally in the form of a wage for women who work in the home as stay at home caregivers. At some point in her speech, Gloria asked the audience to calculate what it would cost a family to hire a full time nanny to be with the kids and drive them to school; cook (or take out for every meal); send out all clothes, towels, sheets and other linens for laundry service and/or dry cleaning; clean the house; hire a personal assistant to organize schedules and pay bills; pack lunches; pick up snacks and special treats or presents for kids parties; hire a work associate to design, print, seal and send Christmas cards…. Gloria went on and on to list the tasks that seem ‘normal’ for a stay at home caregiver, often a woman.

    While I would love to see the economy shift to paying stay at home parents for their work, I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. However, addressing the guilt that stay at home moms often feel for asking for help and delegating to complete these tasks is something that should and can be challenged. Wherever you do your work – inside of the home, outside of the home, or both – paying for services to help you to function and achieve the quality of life you hope for is necessary. Feeling guilty about it only reinforces the cycle of expectation that we should be able to do “it all.” So, next time you notice that you are feeling guilty or having second thoughts about the work that you do, challenge it for your and other parents’ sake!


  2. Finding Balance as a Working Mom on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Finding Balance as a Working Mom on the Charlotte Today Show


  3. Networking Do’s and Don’ts

    We all hear about networking in today’s professional environment. We are told it is a necessary skill, not an optional one. What though is networking and how does one go about doing it successfully?

    According to many experts, networking means: To build relations on the basis of trust that involves a give and take. Although seemingly simple, this definition is easier said than done. Let’s break it down….

    To build relations: To build a relationship means that you are developing a pattern of interactions with another person. In order for this to be true, making a good first impression is crucial.

    On the basis of trust: Trust suggests confidence in someone or something to be reliable, valid and truthful. Trust in a person also involves seeing strength in him/her.

    Involves a give and take: Networking involves helping others and providing something or some service to others while also looking for something or some service from others.

    So, how does one go about doing all of this? Below are my top 3 do’s and don’ts for professionally networking with others.

    Do’s

    1. Make a good first impression. This includes:
      1. Being on-time to your meeting
      2. Over-dressing as opposed to under-dressing
      3. Being appreciative
      4. Listening attentively
    2. Develop a goal and strategy:
      1. Prepare ahead of time by researching the person and organization you are meeting with.
      2. Contemplate in advance what you hope to gain from this meeting in terms of information and additional potential contacts.
      3. Strategize what you can offer the person you are meeting with so that you ensure you are completing the ‘give and take’ component of networking.
    3. Follow-up:
      1. Always follow-up immediately after the meeting with a handwritten note or personal email.
      2. Reach out to your contacts quarterly, semi-annually or even annually with a card, phone call or email in order to ensure you maintain the relationship.

    Don’ts

    1. Ask for a job:
      1. Asking for advice and asking someone to employ you are two very different things. It is always safe to ask others about their professional experiences and how they made the choices they did. It is rarely safe to ask others if they can hire you!
      2. Asking for a job threatens your image of strength and confidence, both of which are key components of trust.
    2. Stop networking because you have a job:
      1. Networking is most effective for growing on the job or changing jobs. When you are in crisis and trying to find a job, you are going to want a network to reach out to, so make sure to continue networking even when things are going well.
      2. Growing your network and maintaining your network via intermittent follow-ups to others takes time and purposeful energy. Make networking part of your professional duties so that you have relationships to call upon when you are in need of help.
    3. Underestimate the power of networking:
      1. Finding a job takes more than filling out an application on line, attending a job fair or even having an amazing resume.
      2. In an August 2009 survey competed by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., a global outplacement firm, human resources executives were asked to rate the effectiveness of various job-search methods on a scale of 1 (least effective) to 5 (most effective). Networking averaged a 3.98. And, about half of the executives gave networking the highest effectiveness rating of 5.

    In the end, networking has now become an essential part of everyone’s professional lives. Focusing on the importance of a network; networking with awareness and purpose; and following the do’s and don’ts listed above can all have a positive impact on your professional path and help you find success, satisfaction and opportunities in your career. To learn more about networking, see Rebecca’s segment on the Charlotte Today Show here.


  4. The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca talk about Networking on the Charlotte Today Show


  5. 5 Questions to Help You Find a Job You Love

    Sometimes I wish I could call someone and ask ‘what should I do with my life’? Wouldn’t it be great to have someone else tell you, if you do A, B, and C, you will feel happy, fulfilled and everything will work out? Wouldn’t it be great to have certainty related to your future, professionally and personally? Let’s be honest, I would be rich if I could be that person for others! What a gift that would be. Unfortunately, I have not figured how to precisely answer those questions for myself much less for other people. I have, though, identified a few key questions that I think are worth asking yourself if you are interested in finding a career that feels less like a job and more like a passion.

    1. What does your ideal day look like? Your ideal week? In answering this question, think about whether or not you like to have your time structured or be more autonomous. Do you like to work alone or with people? Do you perform better if you leave your house? While you might not always get to choose your ideal day as part of your job, you can certainly seek out pieces of your ideal day in different roles that you consider.
    1. Before you retire, what do you want to be known for professionally and personally? What is your professional reputation right now? Do you want to change, expand or vary it? Sometimes thinking ahead and visualizing yourself at the end of your career can help to put your values, goals and objectives into perspective. Looking back on the bigger picture of your professional life can often refocus you on what is important to you and help you pass over things that aren’t.
    1. What do you most enjoy learning about? Thinking about? Talking about? Do you prefer to learn in a classroom environment or from a textbook? What topics do you love talking about? While not every person who loves race cars, can or should work in the racing industry, reflecting on what it is about race cars that you love and trying to surround yourself with others who have similar passions can help to make you feel more engaged and excited about your own professional life.
    1. What emotion or sensation do you associate with success: Happiness? Excited? Proud? Stress-free? You answer to this question may determine what type of work you seek out and how often you hope to change your work. If you are someone that likes to be excited and constantly stimulated, you will likely benefit from a fast-paced, diverse job. If you consider your ideal job to be stress-free, then you will likely want a constant, low-intensity work environment. Departments and companies change, so while a job might have started as a good match for you, over time, it might become something else. It is important to continually check-in with yourself about how your work environment is affecting your emotions.
    1. What are you willing to give up? Continuing with the question above, if you are someone that seeks out fast-paced work environments, then you will likely give up a degree of control in your schedule and place of work. If you are someone who prefers to be in charge of your schedule and be an autonomous worker, then you will likely give up opportunities that exist in larger corporations because they are typically more bureaucratic. A person once told me it is not comparing the pro’s that makes a decision for someone but rather comparing the cons. I thought that this was great advice because in the end, whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, it is the cost of a decision to which a person pays the most attention to and remembers the longest.

    Answers to these questions are not simple and often take time to work through. In truth, over the course of my career, my answers to these questions have changed. I do not think that they are stagnant or simple. Answers to these questions will not tell you what title or position you should seek out. However, they will help you to identify what role might be most likely to lead to a feeling of professional fulfillment. I recommend reviewing these questions on a yearly basis or when you feel a transition is coming. Reflecting on where you have been, where you are and where you hope to go in your professional path always behooves you and helps you to make informed decisions.

    *This article was first published on Scoop Charlotte on September 12, 2016. See here for the original article.


  6. Finding a Job You Love on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca talk about Finding a Job You Love on the Charlotte Today Show


  7. Preparing Your Family for School to Start

    If you are anything like me, 4th of July festivities are a distant memory. The family’s red, white and blue outfits that I spent most of June picking out will not be worn again for another year (assuming they even fit then), and all of the excitement related to fireworks and sparklers has since been forgotten. Instead, as I look at my calendar, I notice that the middle of August is quickly approaching and that September 1st is just around the corner. I get lost in thoughts about how hot it is and how I am practically melting when I walk from my car to my front door. And then, it hits like a punch in the stomach…it is August 1st…that means school is starting soon…really soon…that month soon! Just like that, I am lost in thought again about how neither my kids nor I am ready for school and how none of us want the summer to end. In the spirit of planning ahead, I want to share my top 3 tips on how to prepare for the end of summer and the beginning of the next school year. Transitioning back to school is never easy, but following these recommendations can help to make it as smooth as possible.

    #1 – Get back on a schedule early

    My # 1 tip for transitioning back to school for kids of any age is to get back on a schedule early…. Like now. Waking up before the bus is not easy or, honestly, fun for anyone. However, practice can help. Decide as a family that you are all going to start your school morning routine one or two weeks before school actually starts. Wake up on time, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack your bag, etc. Then, instead of getting on the bus or into the carpool lane, leave your house and do something else. Whether it is going to a park, a museum or work, following through with the ins-and-outs of the morning routine in advance can help the entire family to prevent (hopefully) major meltdowns on the actual first day of school.

    #2 – Reach out to school friends

    My #2 tip for transition back to school is to reconnect with school friends, especially those in your child’s class. During the summer, families often go their separate ways. Some families travel, some kids go to the pool, others go to camp. Regardless of where your child has been and what your family has done this summer, seeing familiar faces before the first day of school and reconnecting with peers can help to reduce anxiety your child has about seeing people for the first time. Everyone has questions about whom they will be friends with and whether or not others have changed; having a familiar face waiting for you when you get off the bus on the first day of school is something everyone benefits from.

    #3 – Choose your words wisely

    My #3 tip for transitioning back to school is to make sure that you set the tone in your house positively. Regardless of how you really feel about your child’s teacher, whether or not you think middle school is going to be hard, or even if you would prefer your child to have gotten schedule A versus B, make sure that you choose words carefully. Your child will hear the messages you send, verbally and nonverbally, loud and clear. I also highly recommend sitting down with your kids and asking them how they feel about the upcoming year. What are they excited about? Nervous about? What are their goals, both academically and socially? The more conversation and communication before the school year starts, the more likely it is that your family will have the skills it needs to supportively move forward if something difficult does arise at some point in the year.

    In the end, the transition from summer to school is both tough and thrilling. Taking time to prepare and become more aware of the changes that lie ahead will only behoove you and your family as the inevitable end of summer vacation arrives.

    *This article was first published on Scoop Charlotte on August 1st, 2016. See here for the original publication.


  8. Can You Train an Infant to Sleep?

    Anyone who has a newborn knows what it is like to lose sleep… a lot of sleep. Anyone who has a newborn knows that in the middle of the night when you are stumbling to your infant’s room with a bottle in hand, you wonder, when will my child sleep through the night? When will I avoid seeing the numbers 1:00 or 3:30 when it is still dark outside? You hope that it will happen soon, but in truth, you have no idea. The uncertainty of the night is so much worse than the increased need for coffee in the morning and constant strong urges to nap under your desk at work. I have often wondered whether or not you can sleep train a baby. We teach infants to eat solids, toddlers to use a potty, and adolescents to drive on the right side of the road, but can we teach babies to sleep?

    According to a recent study by researchers in Australia, it is Ok to let your baby ‘cry it out.’ The article published by CNN (see here) reports that kids whose parents let them ‘cry it out’ went to sleep 15 minutes faster after 3 months than those whose parents did not let their babies cry until falling back asleep. The article also reports that kids who cried in bed showed no later signs of physiological distress in comparison to kids who did not cry in bed. In other words, you cannot hurt your child by letting him/her ‘cry it out.’ It was reading this article that got me interested in what exactly ‘sleep training’ entails and how I go about doing it.

    As I googled ‘sleep training Charlotte’, I came across Jackie Campbell’s company Infant Sleep Solutions. I immediately set up a time to talk with Jackie and learn the ins-and-outs of how she gets babies to sleep! In our first meeting, Jackie explained to me that, “babies are creatures of habit and consistency is key!” Jackie told me that the process of getting all babies to sleep is the same even though all babies are different. My immediate response was, no way, that seems so counter-intuitive! Jackie told me that by keeping the routine the same every night, parents can signal their babies to sleep via nightly bathes, swaddling, sufficient amount of ounces and familiar sounds. Jackie explained to me that she has worked with over 750 families and that she has successfully reached her goal of training babies to sleep 12 hours (straight!) with all those that followed her program. 12 hours!!! I have not gotten 12 hours of sleep in longer than I can remember, maybe even ever; have you?

    While I was skeptical and believed what Jackie was telling me was too good to be true, I decided I would test her methods out on my own infant who was 2 months at the time and definitely not sleeping through the night. I was pretty much at my wits-end with work and no sleep, so I felt that I had nothing to lose. Jackie told me that her program includes an 8-week routine and that each week I would decrease the number of feedings per night for my baby and increase the number of ounces per feeding. She said that each night in the week is the same and that creativity in schedule was not to be rewarded. In my discussions with Jackie, I learned that she often meets with families before the baby arrives and starts a relationship with them during the baby’s first week of life. If only I had known!

    Regardless, I set out on my 8-week routine with high hopes and a desire to be the 751st family to have their baby sleep 12 hours straight. During week 1 I actually had to wake my baby up more often than I was doing at that time in order to re-train her. I was not pleased with having to set my alarm again as if she were a newborn and needed to be fed every 3 hours. However, I had committed to the program and was going to follow directions as closely to a ‘t’ as I could. In week 2, my baby got an ear infection, and I thought the whole program was lost. Jackie told me to stay as close to the guidelines as possible and carry on with the training. Week 3 and 4 were a blur, and then in week 5 I had to get rid of my baby’s pacifier at night and during the day…. That was a rough week to say the least! In week 6, my baby stopped being swaddled, and in week 7, we put two diapers on her because she kept peeing through her clothes. Week 8 finally arrived, and I only fed my baby at 7 pm and then again at 7 am. For the beginning half of the week, my baby woke up and cried a few times. It was really tough not to go in and soothe her. However, I kept hearing Jackie’s voice in the back of my head…. Follow the program, and you will get the results you want!

    I am here to tell you that sleep training works. At 4 months, my baby was sleeping from 7 am to 7 pm and is still following that schedule. Sure there are days she wakes up early, but I try not to go into her room before 7 am for fear that I will ruin it all. While I was skeptical, to say the least, of Jackie’s program and the concept of sleep training in general, I learned through personal experience that it really is possible to train your child to sleep through the night. Whether you are the parent of a newborn or a young infant, I would highly suggest considering a sleep-training program, for in the end, we are all better parents when we have had a full night’s sleep!

    If you want to learn more about Jackie and her company, Infant Sleep Solutions, you can go to www.infantsleepsolutions.com. She just published a sleep training manual and also offers babysitting and nannying services.


  9. Signs of a Disordered Eating Problem and How to Help

    We all seem to find things about ours bodies that we do not like. Many of us know the unhappiness and self-loathing that a poor body image can cause for ourselves.

    But, how do you know, when you, your friend or loved one has veered into a danger zone? How do you know when it is time to be concerned about his or her negative body image, low self-esteem or disordered eating behaviors? And, once you have decided that you need to do something to help this person, what do you do? All of these questions are difficult to ask or think about. , And they are scary. But, knowing that your friend or loved one is hurting and that his or her body image, self-esteem and eating habits are not healthy is emotionally and spiritually overwhelming.

    Below, I list some general signs of a person who is struggling with body image, self-esteem or eating problem as well as some of the best things that you can do to help that person.

    What to take note of….

    1. Poor Body Image. Notice if the person often engages in negative self-talk such as “I’m so fat” or “I have no self-control.” Notice if the person consistently interprets others’ comments as negative judgments of him or herself. Negative or obsessive thoughts about body size and body insecurity are important signs to look for.
    2. Wanting to Eat Alone. If your friend or loved one has a fear of eating in public, it is important for you and for them to question why this fear exists. Is the person self-conscious about food intake in relation to his or her body? What is underlying the person’s anxiety? For people struggling with disordered eating, food in and of itself can provoke anxiety, so eating in public is even more anxiety provoking than eating alone.
    3. Focusing on ‘Safe’ Foods. Does your friend or loved one label foods? Are certain foods ‘healthy’ and others ‘bad’? If you have a sense that your friend or loved one has labeled foods as ‘safe’ or ‘unhealthy’ then it is important to consider where these labels came from. Notice whether your friend or loved one connects the category of food (good versus bad) with his or her self-worth e.g. “I was bad today because I ate a bad food.”
    4. Excessive exercise. This one is difficult because defining what ‘excessive’ is can be tricky, especially when talking about active adolescents and athletes. The key questions to ask yourself are: Does my friend or loved one panic if he or she misses a day of exercise? And, will he or she exercise even when sick or injured? Exercise can be a compensatory behavior in response to food, so noticing the role that it plays in your friend or loved one’s life is important.
    5. Eating Rituals. Does your friend or loved one approach every meal in a regimented way? Does he or she cut food into very small pieces? Arrange items on a plate in a certain pattern? Always leave the same item uneaten? Eating rituals can indicate attempts to eat less as well as obsessive food related behaviors.
    6. Feeling Cold and Fine Body Hair. Feeling cold is often a symptom of low body fat and malnutrition. Choosing to wear heavy sweaters on warm days and always wanting to keep a jacket on inside the house are common indicators that a person’s body is having difficulty maintaining warmth. Additionally, people who are restricting their caloric intake often develop a thin film of hair that is soft and downy on his or her arms and other parts of the body. This hair is known as lanugo and emerges after extended periods of malnutrition.

    If you notice any of these signs of a body image, self-esteem or disordered eating problem, Here are some tips of how to help:

    1. Trust Your Gut. If you are concerned, listen to yourself. You might not have clarity on what exactly feels unhealthy about your friend or loved one, but if you are worried, do not ignore that feeling.
    2. Educate Yourself. Learn as much as you can. Read books, articles, and brochures. Try your best to distinguish facts about your friend’s disordered eating with inaccurate ideas that he or she has. You can learn more at the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) website.
    3. Be Honest, Caring, and Firm. The best thing that you can do for your friend or loved one is to talk openly with him or her about your worries. Your sharing your concerns indicates how much you care for him or her. You do not need to police the person or try to take responsibility for his or her actions. Instead, compliment the person’s personality, accomplishments and successes while also expressing to him or her what you have observed and why you are worried.
    4. Seek Help. No one can force someone else to change his or her attitudes and behaviors or to engage in help. Once you have openly and honestly shared your concerns with your friend or loved one, tell someone else. Ask others in this person’s life to support you and this person in taking the problem seriously and addressing it. If you can, seek the help of a professional who has experience working with others with negative body image and self-esteem. Asking the professional to speak to your friend about your concerns might help the person to take your worries more seriously. Many people worry about having a fall-out in their relationships and avoid confronting their friends and family about eating habits concerns. While this is always a risk, your loved one’s long term health is the priority; you and he/she can begin to repair the relationship once he/she is healthy again.

    These symptoms can arise for any number of reasons including (but not limited to) depression, anxiety, bullying, trauma, and/or unhealthy relationships. Whether you are the person struggling with a body image, self-esteem or disordered eating problem or you know someone who is, support and help are available. Recovery is possible. .

    Please feel free to contact me with questions about yourself or others at any time.


  10. Is Social Media Really All That Bad?

    In my last blog article, I discussed the numerous downsides of social media. However, social media is not all negative! Even though the downsides I mentioned are real, research indicates that:

    • Students who experience low self-esteem can take advantage of social media and its capability to bond them with others in order to pull themselves up from slumps in their mood.
    • Social media can help with socialization. Studies indicate that introverted adolescents can actually gain social skills by using social media.

    Social media has a role, a growing role at that, in our lives and futures. It behooves each of us to understand the effect of social media on our thoughts, emotions and behaviors and to become more aware of both the negative and positive effects it is having on us.

    A few things you can do to combat the effects of social media are:

    • Remember that what we see in a picture or post is the ‘idealized’ version of the other’s reality. Appreciate that the photo like was edited and that the scenario likely was staged.
    • Be careful to not ‘over-share’ or disregard your own privacy filters. If you would not be comfortable telling someone something face-to-face, then it likely is not appropriate to say over social media either.
    • Bring awareness to the amount of time you spend on social media each day. Do you use Facebook as a distraction at work? Do you open up Instagram when you are at a red light or while you are at the dinner table? Setting limits for yourself, your team at work and your family regarding social media use will help to
      • Limit the decrease in productivity you experience because of it
      • Reinforce in-person connection and interaction by focusing on the people in front of you rather than those on your screen
      • Help you to monitor social media’s addictive nature and effects on your life
    • Lastly, if you are concerned or do not know where to start, try taking a day or week hiatus from social media and see how you do. See what else you can fill your time with and monitor your mood. Are you happier? Feel more connected? The only way you will ever really know the effect of social media on you is if you try to go with out it.

    The key to using social media is being aware of the affects it is having on your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Once you start to notice trends in how it affects you, both negatively and positively, you can more consciously choose how to navigate your relationship with social media.

    If you want to learn more about social media and its affect on us, you can watch my segment on the Charlotte Today Show in March available here.


Rebecca in the Press

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